They’ll give a credit card to anyone these days

Because of Opt-Out Prescreen, I no longer get credit card offers at home. From time-to-time, though, I get them at work. A few weeks ago, I received an offer that puzzles me:

Seems pretty normal, huh? Well, let's look more closely. Here's the address:

And the fake card:

(Why do they include fake cards, anyhow? Do they really induce more people to apply?)

I have no idea how anyone found a database in which my name was listed as “Roth Dohn” instead of “John Roth”. And “Custom Boc Service”? What exactly does that company do?

All I can come up with is that maybe person A, who had a heavy accent of some sort, read information from an existing database to person B over the phone. But then why didn't they mess up the street address? The street address is difficult, even when I'm giving it, and I've been repeating it for nearly forty years.

If I were more mischievous, I'd fill out the application and send it in. I have no doubt that Roth Dohn would get a credit card.

In related news: Today I submitted an application for my first personal credit in many years. (Under my real name — not as Roth Dohn.) It was a tough decision. My inability to handle credit responsibly got me into debt problems to begin with. But I'm a different person now. I'll be fine.

After many people recommended a Capital One card for overseas travel — there are no fees on purchases made outside the U.S. — and after realizing this could save me money and provide convenience, I decided to apply on-line. Unfortunately, the web-based application hung. It wouldn't accept my birthdate.

I called Capital One instead. “I'd like to apply for a Capital One No Hassle Cash Rewards card,” I told the man who handled my call.

He was very eager to help me. “No problem, sir. We can help you out. We've got a wide variety of cards with great mileage programs,” he said.

“I don't want a card with a mileage program,” I said. “I want the Capital One No Hassle Cash Rewards card. I already researched it online.”

“I understand, sir,” the man said. “But you can use miles just like cash. For example, with this card…” He rambled on and on. Eventually I convinced him to let me apply for the card I wanted, though he kept trying to talk me out of it. (Do these folks get commissions for selling certain cards?) Also, the APR he quoted me over the phone was 15.88% instead of 13.88%, but I didn't fuss about it. I will not carry a balance on this card. This card is simply a convenience. The APR is irrelevant.

I spent twenty minutes on the phone completing the application, increasingly frustrated with the customer service rep trying to steer me toward choices I did not want. And then, when the application was finished, he announced, “Thank you, Mr. Roth. If your application is approved, you will receive your card in two or three weeks.”

Oops. I may have cut the timing too close. I've got my fingers crossed — we leave for Europe three weeks from today!

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Ryan Duff
Ryan Duff
13 years ago

I’d be prepared to call Capital One security and check your voicemail on the phone number you used on the application. You have a very high chance of getting flagged if you use it overseas right after getting it.

I went on a cruise with my wife about a month after I got a card and it got flagged because I used it twice in the Bahamas. I had to call them and confirm the purchases were my own before I could use it again.

Pedro Villalobos
Pedro Villalobos
13 years ago

I just hate credit cards. I used to have one, and now it’s laying on my desk for almost 6 months.
And I don’t know about US, but here in Brazil they do get comission for certain cards. Usually the most expensive ones =/

Jared Harley
Jared Harley
13 years ago

They really will – check out The Torn-Up Credit Card Application – my shredder now works overtime!

A Tentative Personal Finance Blog
A Tentative Personal Finance Blog
13 years ago

I hate calling credit card companies. I had experiences where I’ve called to dispute charges and they tried to push identity theft protection, credit reports, even offerings for new cards! It’s ridiculous.

On the topic of anyone being able to get a card. I think I read a story once where this 8 year old boy received a credit card and his mother had to call it in and dispute it and cancel it. The operator told her that she needed to talk to the original card holder (the boy). That’s something seriously wrong there.

Jared Harley
Jared Harley
13 years ago

@me: And the MSNBC article including an interview with the credit card company: http://redtape.msnbc.com/2006/03/what_if_a_despe.html

boomie
boomie
13 years ago

big mistake.

SJean
SJean
13 years ago

Another thanks for the site. I’ve also been receiving multiple offers daily to consolidate my student loans (which I did like a year ago, you would think they could leave me alone!). Maybe this will help that too? Congrats on the credit card, I think you are ready for it. I just convinced my boyfriend to do the same (he has NO credit history). As much as I do like responsible credit card use, I think credit card companies are a PAIN to deal with–every time I call discover they try to sell me some sort of protection. And when… Read more »

m.g.
m.g.
13 years ago

I hate to be negative, but… (don’t you love it when people start out that way?) Anyway, we had an account w/Capital One, and had destroyed the actual physical card ages ago. We then decided to go ahead and get a new card (to take on vacation, no less). We waited 2 days past the 14 business days we were quoted, called back, and they hadn’t even sent it out – just flat out lied to us, I guess. This happened twice. It took us from October to mid-January to get our card. Maybe since yours is a brand new… Read more »

Fazal Majid
Fazal Majid
13 years ago

Consider getting a PayPal debit card. I believe they don’t have surcharges on international transactions either.

JR
JR
13 years ago

I hate dealing with all credit card companies except for Chase. They’re consistently polite, helpful and fast.

JohnK
JohnK
13 years ago

I hate to start out negative also, but feel the need to do so it this case. I had an old debt bought by Capital One transferred to a interest free loan plus a credit card. Great! I can pay off this old debt and get credit for it? WRONG!!! A firm know as “Monterey County Bank” bought the loan, and Capital One dropped me like a two-day old used sock. Just to add insult to injury, I noticed that the new payment history from MCB was not on my credit history for the last 18 months, so I contacted… Read more »

JohnK
JohnK
13 years ago

I also had a friend that receives his pay for contracted convenient store work via a “PLUS” debit card and had no choice in the matter. I’m not sure this is legal, but I’m not an attorney. In the meantime, each time he uses the card to receive money, he has to pay an ATM fee, sometimes HEAVY ATM fees. No matter how you use a card to get cash, (except for credit cards), try to use the grocery store and get cash back for the rest of your other expenses. Most grocery stores do not charge a surcharge for… Read more »

joshuat
joshuat
13 years ago

JD,

Your two statements from this post:

“I’ll be fine.” and “This card is simply a convenience.”

Make me sad. You’re letting the credit card companies win by going back to them for the sake of convenience.

You know what they take in Europe? CASH. Visa Debit Cards. You know, like in the USA. Sure, you have to exchange currency and that costs money, but you’re going to spend more with the credit card than you would on the exchange rate.

You should read this:

https://www.getrichslowly.org/i-do-not-use-credit-cards/

seawallrunner
seawallrunner
13 years ago

JD’s story reminds me of how I had to register my credit card earlier this week, when I received a replacement. Here’s how it is supposed to work – one calls a 1-800 number from one’s home phone, the card company confirms that this is the number they have on file, and the card is then good to go. What happened, instead – I had to enter the number of my credit card into the numeric keypad, and then wait briefly for the operator to speak with me. She then launched into a sales pitch of ancillary services offered by… Read more »

J.D.
J.D.
13 years ago

Joshuat said: Your two statements from this post make me sad. You’re letting the credit card companies win by going back to them for the sake of convenience. Believe me: this is not a choice I made lightly. But when I began to look at the fees I was going to pay to use my ATM card for cash in Europe, I began to worry a little. It seems like I’m throwing money away. I chose this particular card because GRS readers had noted that it carries no annual fee, grants 1.25% cash back, and has no charges for use… Read more »

Andrea >> Become a Consultant
Andrea >> Become a Consultant
13 years ago

> (Why do they include fake cards, anyhow? > Do they really induce more people to apply?) I’m a marketing consultant. An enclosure like this has many benefits: – recipient is more likely to open the package to see what it is – after seeing their name on a card, the recipient is more likely to read the letter to see what it’s about – people hate to throw away non-paper items, so the recipient will probably hang on to the mailer for a while – all this makes it more likely that the recipient will respond to the direct… Read more »

boomie
boomie
13 years ago

J.D. I just came back from Europe. You are going to get creamed on the exchange rate. Plus everything looks so lovely in Europe you are going to spend, spend, spend. Trust me on that. The quality in Europe is superb! I only used cash and my Visa Check Card. Unless you are renting a car, a credit card is not needed. If I had a charge card, I would have bought more. Keep us posted on your charge card use. I hope and pray you don’t get suckered in. Capital One has to be the worse company for a… Read more »

Kristina
Kristina
13 years ago

I think it’s sad that you are giving such an unethical, disgusting company your business. You could have easily gotten a debit card from a more reputable company (or even a credit card from a more reputable company). Capital One is among the worst offenders in terms of all the endless credit card tricks and fraudulent practices. Didn’t you want to puke just from talking to them on the phone?? It’s rather gross that they tried to talk you into tons of products you didn’t want and then they committed fraud by giving you a different interest rate than what… Read more »

limeade
limeade
13 years ago

I’m not a huge fan of Capital One, but I do agree that credit cards are extremely convenient. As long as you keep track of things and use your head, things will be fine. It’s when we don’ give it a thought until the bill comes that we have a problem.

-limeade

Meta2
Meta2
13 years ago

We’ve been to Europe several times, and it’s been very convenient using a credit card. Not because we’re looking to spend beyond our means (we pay off our credit card bill monthly), but because: 1) we don’t have to carry too much cash, which I consider a safety concern 2) we don’t have an excess of currency at the end of out trip 3) larger tabs (e.g., hotel) are easy to handle We use an ATM machine at the airport to take cash out and we use it for food, transportation, and incidentals. Generally, we travel very light, so there… Read more »

Meta2
Meta2
13 years ago

Another thought…the first comment by Ryan Duff is right on. I’ve heard of credit card companies declining transactions despite being warned beforehand of overseas travel. Be sure to have their phone number on hand. The 800 number won’t work overseas, so get the actual area code and number.

Julie
Julie
13 years ago

About 10 years ago, I started getting weird credit card solicitations for my business. At the time, I was a professor and did not have a business. It was all very confusing. Then one day, someone from Dunn and Bradstreet called to “update their database.” She asked me how many employees I had. I told her I didn’t have any, that I was a professor. She said, “So, it is just you, then?” I again told her that I did not have a business. She told me that according to their records, I’d had an insurance company for about 10… Read more »

Rogers Place
Rogers Place
13 years ago

Read the credit card terms with a magnifying glass. Most times these great deals and offers have strings attached. If you can manage your card and stay within the terms, ie; avoiding interest, then use them to get your free stuff.

Watch how many you have though, because too many even with zero balances can lower your credit score.

Corey
Corey
13 years ago

I use the exact same card you are waiting for, and so far it has been just fine. The simplicity of the cash rewards site is a breath of fresh air. It really is hassle free, especially next to the insanely frustrating miles and points programs out there. The only mild improvement I can think of is if they allowed me to setup an automatic reward instead of compelling me to login to the site each time. The overseas travel benefit you mentioned is excellent too. Every comparable card I checked out charges a 2-5% commission. Based on what I’ve… Read more »

Roy
Roy
13 years ago

I will not use or have credit cards or have debt of any kind. I’ve been there, done that. Never again. So if my life is inconvenient living by pay as I go, so be it.

Russell Heimlich
Russell Heimlich
13 years ago

They certainly will give credit cards to anyone. That is why I follow these 4 simple steps to give the solicitors a taste of their own medicine.

http://www.russellheimlich.com/blog/how-i-deal-with-junk-mail/

Tim
Tim
13 years ago

golden rules: atm/debit card for cash; credit card for purchases. if you use credit card for cash you are going to start getting charged interest immediately. checkout the various surcharges http://www.smartertravel.com/travel-advice/foreign-exchange-101-update-plastic-charges.html?id=2365145 for various surcharges and atm fees. Bank of America was a bit confusing with the “no fee” among global alliance. you do in fact get charged the 1% exchange surcharge within the global ATM alliance. notify cc company of your travel locations. Definitely get the collect call number or local country number for the cc company and your bank if using your debit card. italy has the worst dollar… Read more »

Elissa
Elissa
13 years ago

Just to give a positive spin to your comments, props on getting the Capital One No Hassle Rewards card. Capital One does indeed suck big-time if you have any sort of problem with your card, but the 1% cash back on everything is fantastic. It’s nice to GET money from the cc companies for once. 🙂 And I know the whole “don’t fall victim to the credit card companies” is a bit of a concern for most people reading this, but I’m fairly certain that you’ll be able to handle it. Hey, if I can keep my Crapital One card… Read more »

plonkee
plonkee
13 years ago

JD, if you can, work out and write down what your vacation money is in euros and sterling as well as US$. Its harder to do currency conversion on the fly than it is to remember your limits in the currency that you’re purchasing in.

Sounds like you made a good choice with you credit card and I’m sure that you’ve got more financial discipline now – especially if you’ll only be using this on vacation.

Alan
Alan
13 years ago

One word…SUCKER!!!

Alan Bluehole
Alan Bluehole
13 years ago

I ordered the Capitol One on a tight schedule just before leaving for South Africa. I was approved and it arrived within a week. I think you’ll get it in time.

When I used my debit card for the ATM, I had fees of sometimes as much as $5; the Cap One was the smart way to make most of my transactions.

Starving Artist
Starving Artist
13 years ago

Hey JD–I didn’t read all the posts, so I assume this has been covered, but what’s with the Capital One card? Among many other things, why did you except the bait-and-switch APR? The APR always matters–even if you “don’t intend” to carry a balance, the point is to be responsible, not impenetrable. You’re financial life should have fallbacks, and the fact that you’re so sure of yourself that you feel you don’t need them tells me that you’re TOO sure of yourself. It’s not just the principle of things–it really matters. And, then, it IS the principle. You’re here, in… Read more »

DG
DG
13 years ago

They certainly will extend offers to anyone these days: last year when my sister-in-law was still 16, a credit card offer arrived at that household addressed TO HER AIM SCREENNAME! She used that name for various online accounts so it didn’t specifically come from AIM, but still…

J.D.
J.D.
13 years ago

I chose the Capitol One card because several GRS readers had recommended it for traveling overseas. I concede that I was wrong not to make a fuss about the bait-and-switch APR. My rationalization (such as it is) is that I’m going to call the Capitol One as soon as I get the card to let them know that I’m taking it overseas, and while I do that, I’ll complain about the rate. This doesn’t excuse me for consciously allowing the bait-and-switch, but it’s what I told myself during the process. I appreciate the concern regarding “fallbacks”, but I’ve made sure… Read more »

Cathy
Cathy
13 years ago

Hah. “No Hassle” card my ass. You should have told their phone representative that their card was sadly misnamed.

KMull
KMull
13 years ago

Again, some of these responses are hilarious. Congrats on making a step FORWARD — to safe use of credit cards.

I don’t think I would have taken Capital One — I’ve heard canceling their cards is like pulling teeth without numbing! But a good first step.

Sankari
Sankari
13 years ago

Hi! I do hope you get your CC bbefore you go away! I do read your blog often and am de-lurking to ask a quick question: If you only need the card to conduct transactions overseas, could your bank not provide you with a visa-linked transaction card? I live in Australia and my bank gave me with a card that allowed me to use my own money overseas. The card worked exactly like a visa card and gave me $500 credit limit (if I spent all my own money). and I did not have to pay transaction charges or interest… Read more »

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